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Negotiation, Contracts and Comparative Law

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Our Negotiation, Contracts, and Comparative Law course is taught out of the Michigan State University College of Law. This challenging and practical course is a 12-session survey of contract law, practical negotiation skills, and comparative theory. Over three weeks, students will learn how to communicate about contracts with attorneys and business people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Through a combination of readings, lectures, and assignments, students will gain an understanding of how contract law functions to promote economic activity, business and personal transactions, and human dignity. Finally, students will have the chance to apply your new knowledge to negotiating and drafting a simple contract in a [relatively] friendly competitive exercise against peers and / or nationals from other cultures.

During the course, students will have the opportunity to cover questions such as:

  • What is the connection between human dignity, freedom, and the ability to make legally enforceable promises?
  • What do James Bond, Star Wars, aboriginal Trobriand Islanders, and speed limits in Michigan, the Northern Territory, and Lithuania have in common?
  • Should a court enforce a contract requiring a consumer to pay $3500 merely for posting a negative review about bad customer service online?
  • How can I get a better deal on my next TV? Car? Multibillion dollar merger?
  • I want to do business in China – how should I think about Chinese Contract Law? How do I avoid potential pitfalls?

Dan Barnhizer created and teaches this course with the American Semester Program. Professor Barnhizer is the Bradford Stone Faculty Scholar at Michigan State University College of Law and is a co-author of casebooks in the fields of Contracts and Commercial Transactions. He also directs the Conservation Law Program and the Journals Program at the Law College, as well as the MSU College of Law Institute for Comparative Law & Jurisprudence at the University of Bialystok in Poland.

Learn more about Professor Barnhizer online here.

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This course is taught by Full-Time MSU Faculty. Our faculty look forward to teaching ASP courses and often remain connected to students long after the course finishes. 


Students will live on campus at Michigan State University’s Owen Hall

To learn more about Owen Hall and see some photos, click here.

Accommodation Includes:

  • All students will be placed in single rooms, sharing a suite style bathroom with one other person of the same gender
  • Rooms are furnished with a bed, desk, chair, and dresser
  • Bed linens, pillows, and towels are provided by the residence hall and can be exchanged for clean linens weekly
  • Owen Hall has several common spaces including a take-out style restaurant and convenience store, cafeteria style seating, a media room, community kitchen, study rooms, a computer lab, music practice rooms, and a large outdoor patio
  • Air conditioning is not available in individual rooms, but all common spaces are air-conditioned. Students are provided with box fans in their rooms

Internet Access in Owen Hall

  • Wi-Fi is available in all rooms and common spaces throughout Owen Hall.

Owen Hall Security

  • Owen Hall has a service desk staffed 24-7. The staff can answer any questions residents have and can help resolve maintenance issues by contacting maintenance staff.
  • All students are given a key to their room and an access card upon check-in. Only residents can access the floor on which they live in Owen Hall with their access card.


  • Students have access to IM East, the closest fitness facility. Access is only $3 per day.
  • Toilet paper and trash bags are provided free of charge by Owen Hall.
  • Sports equipment can be checked out from the service desk.
  • River Walk Market, a takeaway style restaurant, is located in the lobby and accepts Spartan Cash.

Activities & Excursions

Day trip to Chicago or Cedar Point

Students may explore ‘The Windy City’! Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the US and has one of the tallest skylines in the world with the Willis Tower (110 Story) and the John Hancock Center (100 Story) observation decks offering amazing views of the city. Chicago is home to over 250 theaters, however, our favorite is The Second City a comedy club with over 50 years of history some of the most famous comedians got their start right here including Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Joan Rivers, Steve Carell, and Mike Myers.

Cedar Point is a 364-acre  amusement park located on a Lake Erie peninsula in Sandusky, Ohio. Opened in the late-1800s, it is reported to be the second-oldest operating amusement park in the United States. The park features a world-record 72 rides, including 17 roller coasters – the second-most in the world.

Tour of the Michigan Capitol Building

Lansing is just down the road from MSU, and it is our state capital. Tour the historic building and learn about Michigan’s history and how our government works.

Lansing Lugnuts Baseball Game

The Lansing Lugnuts are Lansing’s own minor league baseball team, and we’ll go to a game and cheer them on! Experience the traditional American sport of baseball, eat hot dogs at the ball park, and try to get a picture with the Lugnuts’ mascot “Big Lug”. Before we go to the game, our interns will lead you in a game of kickball to help you understand the basics of baseball.

Explore Michigan Excursions

Michigan is home to diverse cities and beautiful parks and lakes, and summer is the best time to explore! We will travel to different areas in Michigan to help you explore both our cities and our landscapes. Potential excursions include city tours of Detroit, and beach day on Lake Michigan, or a day trip to Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan.

American Cuisine Demonstration

Learn about American cuisine while watching a demonstration by one of our chefs at Brody Square.

Graduation Ceremony

Celebrate with your new friends the completion of your American Semester Program Short Course! Take part in an American style graduation (after decorating your grad cap!), celebrate with your professors, and eat dinner at out Kellogg Conference Center and Hotel.

Course Objectives & Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • Describe several different methods for comparing legal doctrines and legal theories;
  • Apply two different methods of comparison – functionalism and hermeneutics – to legal doctrines and legal theories from different cultures;
  • Explain the importance of legal theory as a tool for justifying and explaining legal rules and systems;
  • Describe legal theories that are often applied to justify and explain contract doctrines in American, Chinese, and Ancient Roman jurisprudence as well as anthropological theories used to justify and explain obligations in extra-legal situations such as promises between family members, promises and other obligations in customary societies;
  • Apply common law contract doctrines and negotiation strategies and tactics to negotiation of a simple contract; and
  • Draft a simple contract using both bespoke terms and selected terms.


  • Written Final Examination (70%)
  • Contract negotiation team exercise (10%)
  • Contract drafting exercise (20%)
  • Class Participation is essential in this highly interactive course and may be used to adjust your final grade.


Untitled-3ggsadgsdag.pngPROGRAM DATES

June 27 - July 17, 2020

• June 27: Student Arrival
• June 28: Student Orientation
• June 29: Classes begin
• July 3-5: Day trip to Chicago or Cedar Point
• July 10: Michigan Outing
• July 16: Classes End, Graduation Ceremony
• July 17: Student Departure

Other activities yet to be scheduled include: BBQ at Lake Lansing Park, Lansing Lugnuts Baseball Game, Excursion to Detroit and Outlet Mall

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Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 

Michigan enjoys all four seasons, and in July, MSU is typically very warm with lots of sunshine. Pictured here is an MSU landmark, Beaumont Tower.

Learn more about MSU!


$3,800 USD


• Program Orientation and Tuition
• On-Campus Meals
• On-Campus single room housing
• Excursion to Chicago, Illinois
• Lansing Lugnuts baseball game
• Michigan Cultural Excursion
• Outlet Mall Shopping Trip
• Graduation Ceremony


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Apply online to a Short Course program through our online application system (click here). After creating your Traveler Profile, you can find this program and begin your application! Before you begin your application, however, please prepare the following (you will not be able to complete your application without them):

  • 500-word Personal Essay
    • Please explain why you believe you are qualified for this course and why you want to study abroad at Michigan State University in the USA.
  • Academic Transcript
    • Copies and unofficial transcripts are accepted.
    • You transcript must have your full name and your school’s seal/logo/name clearly visible.
  • Recommendation
    • Include the email address of someone who can recommend you as a participant in the program. This could be an academic advisor, study abroad advisor, professor, supervisor, mentor, etc.

The American Semester Program is looking for applicants who are in good standing at their home universities. Your application will be closely reviewed, and if you have several failed courses, you may be asked to submit additional materials to support your application. The faculty instructors of each course have the final admissions decision and they reserve the right to deny admission.

Application available November 1, 2019!